Why staffing might be breaking the bank at your veterinary practice


Q: How can I get a grip on veterinary support staff costs?

Q: How can I get a grip on veterinary support staff costs?

First, let's establish that support staff costs consist of actual salaries and taxes for your team members only—not doctors or groomers. They also exclude any benefits.

"As a percentage of revenue, it normally runs between 19 and 21 percent, maybe 22 percent, of your gross revenue," says Mark Opperman, CVPM, from Veterinary Management Consultation in Evergreen, Colo. Any more than that, and it may be time to take a hard look at some of the reasons why your numbers are high.

The most common reason is "inappropriate scheduling," says Opperman. "Many times we have too many people, other times too few, but the problem is we don't have the right people at the right time. When I do a schedule for a practice, I start out with the doctor's office hours and surgery schedule, then I superimpose the team members onto that schedule."

For example, consider a doctor's surgery schedule. You'll probably need a veterinary technician for that doctor, an assistant for the technician and a receptionist. Then maybe you have another doctor who's doing outpatient office hours, so you'll need an exam room assistant for that doctor and potentially another receptionist as well.

Opperman says the second-most common reason is overtime, which can occur excessively in some veterinary practices. He advises you to monitor this carefully and aim for less than 1 percent of practice gross revenue.

A third reason Opperman offers for high support staff costs is income—you're not generating the revenue you should be. If that's the case, brainstorm ways to get more clients and pets in the door and keep them coming back to see you.

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